Lincoln's High-Tech Art Installation in NYC Hums With Music and Light

Sirens of the Seaport District

Nothing says "Buy this car" like 95 nine-foot-tall aluminum and steel rods that hum and glow at the touch of your hand. 

Launching today on Pier 17 in Lower Manhattan's Seaport District, the installation from Atlantic Re:think, Hudson Rouge and SOFTLab touts Lincoln's Nautilus mid-size crossover (an evolution of the nameplate's MKX).

Also dubbed "The Nautilus," the high-tech display forms a lightscape that's visible across the East River in Brooklyn. Touch a pole once and it emits a tone. Multiple and continuous interactions, we're told, stimulate a layered, symphonic effect. 

"Lincoln's core target for the Nautilus are the culturally curious, and there are droves of them coming to the revamped Seaport to check out everything new down there," Hudson Rouge creative chief Jon Pearce tells Muse. "But there are also lots of people from out of town who are visiting, and this is a great way to allow them to interact with the brand in a way that's fresh and engaging."

The physical interactivity of the installation "was essential to the concept," Pearce says. "We wanted to demonstrate to people firsthand—literally—how the tech in the Nautilus responds to you, the driver. The Nautilus driver-assist technology is all about giving you an added sense of control, along with the peace of mind that goes with that. And it does it in a way that's very personal, as opposed to a cold, purely technological way." 

An effort was made to capture the spirit of that "human-focused and empathetic brand ethos" in the installation, he says. "We think the colorful, tactile and sensorial response can be memorable in ways that even a great 30-second TV spot may not achieve." 

Each pole is equipped with responsive LED lights and speakers, and the whole network is connected to computers embedded in the floor.

"As a visitor walks into the installation, they'll be greeted with both light and sounds," says Atlantic Re:think executive creative director Jeremy Elias. "As they touch any of the poles, they will respond through light and an audio note on a nine-note scale. The sensor is reading variables like the tightness of their grip, the length of their hold, etc. From there, the activated pole will trigger a ripple effect on surrounding poles, and a light and audio symphony of sorts will occur around you." 

In recent years, brands have deployed public art installations in increasingly creative ways. Pornhub explored the future of sex, a Dutch museum warned us about plastic in the seas, and Brooklyn agency Breakfast—on the cutting edge of art and technology—developed digitally controlled, rotating bricks that act as pixels in out-of-home displays. 

Other auto brands have taken the concept for a spin, too—most recently Audi, which dispatched a terrifically twisted version of its R8 (Iron Man's car!) to an exhibition of "Hollywood Dream Machines."  
 
The Nautilus will dock in NYC through Sept. 10, and then sail for its permanent mooring at Lincoln's home port of Detroit.

CREDITS

Client: Lincoln Motor Company 

Agency: Hudson Rouge
Jon Pearce—Chief Creative Officer 
Brett Minieri- Creative Director
Gong Liu- Associate Creative Director
Hayley Fiorentino- Art Director
Aaron Marten- Copywriter

Publisher Studio: Atlantic Re:think 
Hayley Romer - Publisher
Jeremy Elias - Executive Creative Director
Claire Friedman - Creative Strategist
Brad Girson - Senior Director, Partnerships
Robbie Tanner - Producer
Margaret Lindon - Video Producer
Devin Rochford - Designer
Haley Weiss - Writer
Stacy Barnes - Developer
Dante Meick - Head of Design and Development

Design Studio: SOFTlab 
Michael Szivos
Liz Kelsey

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.